The lines between work life and home life have never been so blurred.

Advances in technology mean you’re permanently reachable via email or instant message, and many workers have ended up working from home, further increasing the feeling of living permanently at work.

When you’ve got your nose so close to the grindstone, it can be hard to recognise that some of your behaviours may be less healthy than is good for you.

Working hard can be great, but is your work starting to infringe on your ability to live?

If you think this describes you, read on to find out how to achieve the best work-life balance.

What does a healthy work-life balance look like?

Consider your current work-life balance. How many hours a week do you work, and how many hours do you spend socialising? Do you ever prioritise work in favour of your social life?

According to the Mental Health Foundation, a healthy balance means:

  • Managing to meet deadlines while still being able to socialise
  • Having sufficient time to sleep properly, eat well, and take care of yourself
  • Not worrying about working while you’re at home.

However, the core parts of that relationship between living and working can go missing, especially in today’s workplace.

Demanding bosses or excess work can mean you’re unable to meet deadlines without sacrificing your social life.

In turn, you may end up worrying about work in your free time, leading to missing sleep, not eating properly, and not taking care of yourself in the right way.

It can be easy to fall into vicious cycles like this, especially when work continues to feel like the priority.

6 tips for improving your work-life balance

If you think your relationship between living and working is slightly less optimal than you’d like it to be, you may want to consider trying these six tips that can help you improve their balance.

  1. Create a work schedule with set hours

While it may sound simple, you’d be surprised at what setting a work schedule can achieve.

Having set daily hours for when you’re at work defines your free time. Even if you feel like you have work that still needs completing, set it aside for tomorrow and go home or shut your laptop down.

Setting rigid limits between working and living like this can be an effective tool in stopping yourself from working longer hours than is healthy.

  1. Work smarter, not harder

Another benefit from setting a work schedule is that it can encourage you to work smarter, not harder.

The logic here comes from a concept called “Parkinson’s Law”, an old adage coined from a 1955 The Economist article.

In the article, the author, C. Northcote Parkinson, notes how workers often complete tasks to the allotted time, rather than the other way around.

In other words, work efficiently to maximise your productive time. Create a list of the tasks you want to complete each day and stick to it.

That way, you can have more free time to yourself without worrying about concerns at work.

  1. Learn to say “no”

As much as it’s great to be someone who your boss or colleagues can rely on for assistance, sometimes you need to learn the power of saying “no”.

Being a useful individual is only possible if you’re not sacrificing your health and wellbeing in turn. That includes passing up on social activities to help someone else catch up on work.

Obviously, you can still help people if you have the capacity to do so. The key is to learn to tell people that while you’d like to be able to help, you need to prioritise your own tasks first.

This helps to prevent work from piling up, so you don’t end up working longer hours than necessary.

  1. Create some separation between work and play

Whether that’s turning off your phone and laptop at the end of the day or going for a walk after work, try to create a gap between your work and leisure time.

This is particularly important for home workers. Without this separation, work and life can appear to be the same thing.

You could try having an activity lined up for after work every day. This doesn’t have to be anything particularly substantial; knowing that you’re headed for a drink with a friend or even just to watch something on Netflix gives you leisure time to look forward to outside of work.

  1. Use your holiday allowance

Holiday allowances are a legal right, and for good reason: otherwise, every worker would end up driving themselves into the ground.

Make full use of your holiday allowance every year. Even if you use it to just spend time at home on life admin or passion projects, time away from work is an important part of achieving a healthy balance.

Crucially, if you’re employed, don’t allow the thought that work won’t get done to stop you from doing this. It’s the responsibility of your employer to ensure that work gets completed in your absence.

  1. Ask yourself: “do I need to be working this hard?”

Even if you love what you do, the bottom line is that you work to live, not the other way round. The ultimate goal of work is to provide yourself with enough money to live your life.

So, ask yourself, do you need to be working as hard as you are? Do you need to be sacrificing time with your family or friends by spending it at work instead? Does your overworking actually achieve anything?

The help of a financial planner can be invaluable here. A planner can help you work out how much you need in line with your wider life goals and ambitions.

Often, it isn’t the amount of money you make that determines your financial success. Rather, it can be the way you use that money to save and invest for your future.

A financial planner can help you work out how much you actually need. This may make you realise that you were overworking yourself when you didn’t need to be.

Need help?

If you’d like to find out more about how a financial planner could help you manage your work-life balance, please get in touch with us at Lightside Financial Planning.

We can provide you with a financial plan that means the time you spend at work will allow you to live the kind of life you want.

Email or call 0151 372 0161 to speak to one of our experienced advisers.

Please note

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article.